Cattle ID Penalty System Draws Wrath of Union

EU - A European review of the level of penalties imposed on farmers in England and Wales following a breach of the cattle identification and traceability regulations could have ramifications for Scottish farmers, according to NFU Scotland.
calendar icon 19 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

The Union is now in active discussion with the Scottish Government to ensure that if changes are made in Scotland, then any penalties following a breach of the rules remain proportionate and are imposed within the spirit of the recent review into the penalties appeal system.

The discussion has been prompted by a recent visit of EU auditors to England and Wales, following which the auditors raised concerns over the levels of penalties imposed on English and Welsh farmers for breaches of the cattle rules. Given the similarities between the English and Welsh system for calculating penalties and the system in Scotland, the Scottish Government is now reviewing the penalties it imposes following similar breaches.

This has significant implications for those farmers who are currently undergoing a cattle inspection. Following the inspection, farmers receive an official report of the visit. In the current report, the Scottish Government indicates that for those who have failed the inspection, it is not yet in a position to inform them of the penalty that will be imposed until a decision regarding the EU audit has been reached.

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren said:

“All livestock farmers recognise the requirement to comply with the regulations on cattle identification and traceability although compliance with the rules affecting cattle passports, movement reporting and tagging presents a constant challenge. It is unacceptable that those who undergo an inspection and have recorded errors are left in limbo over the level of penalty they will suffer. We will work with Scottish Government and Europe to resolve this as soon as possible.

“When a farmer has an official inspection and mistakes relating to cattle ID are discovered, the current system recognises the level of error and imposes penalties in a proportionate manner. We need that pragmatic approach to be preserved.

“Any suggestion of increased penalties for these breaches is unacceptable and goes against key recommendations within the recent Kinnaird review into the Agriculture Subsidy Appeals Procedure. The review highlighted the need for cultural change to avoid the number of penalties being imposed, backed up by simplified claim forms, better information on avoiding problems and for local Scottish Government officers to offer more assistance to those claimants struggling with the plethora of scheme rules and regulations.

“Farmers can also do their bit. The most common breach revolves around the need to return an animal’s passport to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) when that animal dies on farm. By doing this simple task, farmers will be dealing with the most common error found during an official inspection. The BCMS cattle statement, sent to producers twice a year, also provides a guide to the animals that officials believe you have in your possession. It is worth taking the time to cross-check that statement against your own records and deal with any anomalies as soon as possible.”

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